FAIRBANKS — Doug Rentmeister is impressed with what he’s seen so far from the Fairbanks Host Society’s efforts in preparing the 2014 Arctic Winter Games.
Rentmeister, the chef de mission, or delegation leader, for Team Northwest Territories, was among a gathering Thursday night at Pioneer Park for host society officials and volunteers, Arctic Winter Games international committee members and others who will be involved in the biennial circumpolar athletic and cultural event taking place March 15-22 in Fairbanks and North Pole.
The gathering came at the end of meetings Wednesday and Thursday among the host society, international committee and chefs de mission. The meetings include tours of venues in the area that will be used for the games.
“I’m so impressed,” Rentmeister said during the gathering in Pioneer Park’s Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts. “They’ve progressed nicely, with the announcement tonight of how much they’ve raised and how many volunteers. They’re so far ahead from where we anticipated they’d be and we’re really excited to send our team here.
“They’re well ahead of the game,’’ he added.
Gerry Thick is impressed, too, and he’s the president of the Arctic Winter Games, which in 2014 is expected to consist of 2,500 athletes competing in 20 sports while representing nine circumpolar delegations — Alaska, Greenland, Yamal, Sapmi and Canada’s Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta North, the Nunavik area of Quebec and Nunavut. Yamal is a subject — similar to a state or province — within the Russian Federation, and Sapmi consists of indigenous participants from Russia and three Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland).
“Excellent venues, the committee (host society) is very enthusiastic and working hard,’’ Thick said. “They’re going to have to wrap up pretty soon registering more volunteers.”
The host society is seeking 2,500 volunteers. Cherie Solie, sponsorship manager for the host society, said during an interview last week that 1,500 people had expressed interest in volunteering and that 900 had registered officially online — www.awg2014.org — to be a volunteer.
“I think they will meet their goals here,’’ Thick said Thursday night.
The host society reached a milestone — $1 million from private donations toward the games.
The $1 million goal was aided Thursday night by a $50,000 donation from Pogo Mine. Lorna Shaw, the mine’s public affairs manager, presented a check to Bart LeBon, treasurer for the board of directors of the Fairbanks Host Society.
“Cherie Solie and I were sitting down a couple of years ago looking at that big number and were wondering how we were going to find all of these folks and raise a million dollars plus,” LeBon said during the gathering. “We had about two years to do it and it was a hold-on-tight moment, but here we are.”
The host society has a budget goal of $1.2 million.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586 or follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.